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Online Bachelor's Degree in Photography: Program Overview

Get info about online bachelor's degree programs in photography. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Fully online photography bachelor's degree programs are available at select schools and may result in a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts. Students typically need to purchase photographic equipment, including a camera, memory cards, batteries, lens, a tripod, a scanner and light stands. Specific photo editing software nay also be needed.

Individuals take courses in design applications, magazine photography, advanced studio techniques, portraiture and advertising photography. Students in online programs usually must complete hands-on photography practice on their own, and many programs require a capstone project that showcases their portfolio.

Bachelor's Degrees in Photography

Online bachelor's degree programs in photography aim to provide a comprehensive review of the technical, historical and aesthetic dimensions of their subject. Students learn the fundamentals of operating a camera and photographic equipment and develop a personal style as they become more adept. They also learn business communication skills and build a portfolio of work in preparation for a professional career. Enrollment in a bachelor's degree program requires a high school diploma or GED. Students who can provide samples demonstrating proof of their talent may have better prospects for admission.

Program Information and Requirements

Courses in an online bachelor's degree program in photography can be completed entirely online. Lectures, readings, video and other content may be accessed through a school's website at the convenience of the students, but students must complete assignments by weekly deadlines. Interactions between students and the instructor are handled via phone, fax, e-mail and online forums. A bachelor's degree is typically earned in four years.

Students need a newer personal computer capable of running photo editing software, Internet access and their own camera gear to participate in an online photography program. Schools recommend a broadband cable or DSL connection.

Common Courses

Bachelor's degree programs generally include a liberal arts component. The photography portion of a program may be divided into a set of core courses and a set of electives.

Photography Fundamentals

This course introduces fundamental aesthetic and technical concepts, such as light, composition, exposure, shutter speed and ISO speed. Students learn to obtain consistent photographic results with a camera.

Photography History

Students survey the history of photography from early experiments with photochemistry in the early 19th century to the development of acetate-based film and the emergence of digital technology. Coursework also covers the uses of photography through time and its emergence as an artistic medium.

Digital Photography

This course explains the technology behind digital photography and the techniques for manipulating digital images. Topics covered include charge-coupled devices and photo editing software.

Location Photography

Students in this course learn to achieve a studio look when on location using ambient light and a strobe. The course emphasizes accomplishing maximum results with minimum equipment.


Career Information

An online bachelor's degree in photography qualifies graduates for entry-level positions as commercial photographers, news photographers or portrait photographers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2014-2024, employment of photographers will grow by 3% (www.bls.gov).

However, the falling cost of digital cameras, computers and photo editing software will enable the supply of talent to exceed demand, as well as allow individuals and businesses to meet more of their photography needs on their own. Consequently, degree holders are likely to find more opportunities as freelancers than as permanent staff photographers.

According to the BLS, as of May 2015, freelance photographers earned median salaries across a range of $18,850 for the lowest paid 10% up to $72,200 for the highest paid 10% (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Bachelor's degree holders who want to further develop their skills in the security of an academic setting can pursue a master's degree in photography. Programs are available online at the master's level.

In online bachelor's degree programs in photography, students are provided with a foundational education in the subject, analyzing history, various genres and techniques, but they'll need to purchase their own photographic equipment. Graduates may work in the field or pursue a master's degree.

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